Gamers easily get the sense that they’re the ones driving down Los Ojos’ roads as the story plays out. Ironically, one of the games I am most excited about this year is a narrative adventure title that puts gamers in the role of a driver-for-hire in a futuristic city!
There’s even a proposed safety law that threatens to completely ban all human drivers in the city. As with the money system, I feel like more could’ve been done with it, but it’s still a really interesting twist on the standard dialogue tree. Neo Cab’s characters are colorful and diverse, and I loved learning more about Lina’s pax and seeing how their stories developed as I accepted their returning ride offers. Ultimately, the auto-save feature is a minor annoyance in an era when saving at any time has pretty much become the norm, particularly in visual novel/narrative adventure games such as this. Neo Cab’s controls are fluid and easy to pick up, and I didn’t notice any typos in the English language version of the script. Both Night Call and Neo Cab concern themselves with the interactions of the driver with the world and the passengers rather than going from A to B, with some interesting results. I wish I could say the same for everything else about it, but there are bits that annoy me.
I’m preaching to the converted, but video games are great, right? It is also available for PC.
From the Neo Cab app, you’ll choose your passengers and navigate the city grid. Neo Cab has players take the mantle of Lina Romero, a woman who just moved to the nearly fully automated city of Los Ojos at the request of her best friend Savy.
Lina wears a Feelgrid, a mood bracelet that puts her emotions on display to others. Not necessarily in terms of plot, but just in terms of what conversational choices are available to you. It’s similar to a visual novel in which your choices affect dialogue and, at times, your ending. Feeling too much or too little of a certain emotion can block off dialogue choices entirely, or it might make a pax feel off-put and cause them to refrain from speaking on certain topics. But watch what you say—you’ll need to maintain your star rating to stay on the road. It’s a fascinating concept and she’s a fascinating character, who always provides some really entertaining conversations. It’s because Neo Cab understands that this is capitalism for the poor. How you approach these interactions really just depends on paying attention to the cues the characters give Lina. Still, the FeelGrid system is what makes the conversation system really interesting. In 2019, though, the industry has been more about the narrative side of the commercial transportation industry. Neo Cab has players take the mantle of Lina Romero, a woman who just moved to the nearly fully automated city of Los Ojos at the request of her best friend Savy.
While we don’t get any direct info-dumps about the setting, what snippets we get aren’t positive. Coin is used to do pretty much anything in Los Ojos: from charging up Lina’s car in order to ensure you can actually pick up passengers to making donations to using a bed-finding app cleverly called Crashr for a good night’s sleep at the end of a shift (which is vital to boosting Lina’s starting mood the next day). Its several systems gracefully combine to create a cog that you want to keep turning until you reach the end. Early on in Neo Cab, Lina is given the gift of a FeelGrid bracelet, a piece of new technology that reveals what the wearer is feeling through colored lights. This is where Neo Cab’s excellent writing shines brightest. Sleeping in a Capra capsule hotel may cause Lina to feel guilty, but at the end of the day, Capra is rich so its facilities are comfortable, and Lina is able to sleep soundly. To live life as you want by making the choices you most desire is largely for the privileged. Requesting new pick up… Rediscover Los Ojos with two b rand new epilogues for the first ever Neo Cab content update, completing the Fiona and Oona story arcs. Nobody chooses to live paycheck to paycheck, nor do they truly choose to decide whether to skip a meal to save money or eat but risk not having enough for the bills. Confession time: I’m not the best at driving, and I prefer to avoid it whenever I can. Because each pax has their own vastly distinct stories and goals, Lina’s approach to keeping them happy (and therefore making sure that her oh-so-important star rating doesn’t decrease) will be quite different depending on just who is in the backseat. The UI is clean and thematic, considering it’s largely based around your phone. The company’s cabs are a rare sight in Los Ojos, which happens to be the headquarters of Capra, an automated business that threatens to put Neo Cab and other human-based companies out of business. Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter.
Most of the writing is really good, eliciting wry grins and chuckles, but bits of dialogue and a couple of characters are almost painfully on the nose. Instead, the gameplay focus is on the conversations you have with your passengers, who are a wild and varied bunch at the best of times. Perhaps there’s so much care behind the writing of these characters because Neo Cab also understands that, in a world that defines people’s worth through their capital and contributions to the preservation of capitalist systems, a key part to the survival of the underprivileged is the human connections we make. The camera cleverly pans around to give either a clear view of Lina and her pax during their drive, or the pax is displayed over Lina’s shoulder in the rearview mirror. Neo Cab is a suvival-esque visual novel with branching paths based on dialogue choices, developed by Chance Agency. Lina is a driver for the titular Neo Cab, one of the few taxi services that still employs human drivers. Beyond simply trying to please Los Ojos’ pax and help them through their own stories, Lina also has to be aware of the amount of Coin she has on her person. The characters—both likable and not—are so superbly written that each one is distinct and feels like a real person, making choices often difficult. The update also features a new ride with everyone’s least favourite Capra employee, Charlie. When not writing about games, Tim can occasionally be found speedrunning terrible ones, making people angry in Dota 2, or playing something obscure and random. I’ve never been a driver, but my dad has, and my mother is a supermarket cashier. Neo Cab was developed by Chance Agency and published by Fellow Traveler. In Other Waters review - Alien mushroom botherer, In Other Waters submerges into adventure on Steam on April 3, Hot Brass preview - Breaching, banging, clearing with friends, The Church in the Darkness review - May get a cult following, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin review – Rice farmer/demon hunter, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla review — An epic Viking saga. They let you do all sorts of things you can’t or won’t do in real life. Neo Cab.
It’s not a complex system but it adds a lovely bit of nuance: Choices you make in one conversation have a (literally) visible effect and will impact every other conversation. Dialogue trees in Neo Cab have quite a few options that help steer the conversation and mood. In fact, the cast is so large that Neo Cab is rife with replayability because you are encouraged to form close relationships with Lina’s pax along with keeping up her star rating. Lina’s arrival in Los Ojos occurs just as things begin to figuratively hit the fan. The game even makes wry meta commentary on this replayability factor in the form of the pax Oona, an eccentric quantum statistician who talks about all of the possible diverging timelines that Lina can uncover. And hey, there are a few actual branches in there too. Even though the conversations are only as long as a cab ride, Los Ojos and its people quickly feel real. Play as Lina, the last human driver-for hire searching for her missing friend in the neon streets of Los Ojos. Of course it had to be giant spiders. Soon after their reunion, Savvy goes missing and Lina uses her trade to find out what happened, discovering more about Los Ojos and its secrets throughout her talks with passengers. That one-star rating was absolutely, definitely worth it. From the Neo Cab app, you’ll choose your passengers and navigate the city grid. Audra Bowling is a reviewer for RPGFan. The problem is that she’s also a bit of a deus ex machina, offering up clues and information that she possesses because of branching realities. Those who crave an original cyberpunk setting might find this creative, independent title worth playing. Lina’s journey in Los Ojos was ultimately very fulfilling once I reached one of the game’s better endings, and I regretted none of my time behind the virtual wheel. I’d often have to replay scenes whenever I returned to the game after closing it on my Switch simply because the auto-save had happened earlier for that night and I hadn’t yet reached another save point. The way the FeelGrid and emotions in general are incorporated into Neo Cab’s story is fascinating, though I do admit feeling somewhat frustrated when Lina’s mood kept me from gaining a good rating and even once guaranteed me a bad, despair-inducing ending on my first playthrough.